About New Year's Resolutions...
It’s that time of year again, when everyone is making resolutions and lots of people on the internet are giving us advice on how to dream big! and finish strong! and I thought I would share my unsolicited advice on navigating this minefield of expectations called New Year’s Resolutions.
First, remember that “big” is relative. I need reminders that we serve a BIG God who can do BIG things and that we should pray BIG prayers. There is nothing wrong with that advice. But sometimes the onslaught of encouragement to think BIG with our dreams and goals makes us think we need to land a book deal or start a business in order to be visionary with our lives.
Listen. You do not need to create or achieve some huge thing in order to have been faithful to God’s calling on your life and live a life of BIG faith.
Are you in school? Be faithful to that calling and pursue learning with hard work and integrity. Are you working? Be faithful in that endeavor by giving it your best and bringing the joy of the Lord to your workplace. Are you taking care of a family? Be faithful to that ministry by loving your people well and discipling the next generation with intention.
If God has given you a BIG dream that feels audacious and beyond reason, then by all means, keep trusting God with that dream and faithfully taking each next step toward it. But if you do not currently have a BIG, hairy, audacious dream for your life, take heart. BIG is relative. Obedience to God is the goal, and if He is whispering to you that this year needs to be about joy or stillness or prayer, then friend, do that thing, because God can turn small acts of obedience into BIG results in your life.
You do not have to do BIG things to be a BIG deal. You are already a BIG DEAL to God.
Second, start a journal. I know, I know, you are not a writer. You don’t know where to begin. You’re afraid that your family will read it someday and think you are a total crackpot. You just don’t have time. If I had a dollar for every time someone told me that they really would like to journal but they just can’t, for whatever reason, then by golly, I would be a millionaire.
Here’s the thing. Journaling works. Writing down your thoughts helps you think. It brings clarity, provides direction, and helps you make sense of that tumbleweed of anxieties that’s been rolling around your exhausted brain. I could cite you research on how writing everything from your to-do list to your biggest fears can change your brain, but neither of us have time for that and the reality is that you don’t need the research. You know that writing down stuff helps. You just can’t get over that hurdle called a blank page. So, here is my advice:
Make a list.
Your journal does not need to be a Dear Diary of deepest deliberations. You do not need to write out your prayers word for word (although I love that practice, for the record) or wax eloquent about that thing that happened at WalMart today. Just make a list.
Make a list of prayer requests. Or a list of worries that are weighing you down. Maybe you need to make a list of ways that you can take better care of yourself this week or a list of things that bring you joy. List people that you are grateful for and people that maybe you need to limit in your life. Make a list of Bible verses that you want to memorize and then read it every day. Just think of journaling as regular ol’ list making.
The point is that you are making time to sit with your thoughts and write a few of them down. You are creating a new habit in your life and one that can lead to all sorts of interesting, life-giving places.
I heard someone say once that we overestimate what we can achieve in the short term and underestimate what we can achieve in the long term and I think they’re on to something.
New Year’s resolutions do not need to be 90 degree turns. Aim for a few 2 degree changes and let them slowly lead you where you need to go. Want to become a journaler? Begin by making lists. Want a better skincare routine? Make one change to your routine this month and see where it takes you. Trying to get healthy? Name one habit you can change this week.
Last, but not least, you must tell someone. This is key. Telling someone about your resolution makes it real and saying it out loud helps you hear something you may have missed. You are not telling this person about your resolution so that they can hold you accountable. DO NOT put your friend/spouse/whomever in that position. They are not your personal police force. Allow them to be your sounding board and cheerleader and perhaps help you figure out how you will implement that 2 degree change.
New Year’s resolutions should be characterized by personal desire and optimism. If making a resolution feels like a tool of shame that makes you break out in hives just thinking about it, then don’t do it. You can change your life without making resolutions, and heaven knows God can change you when you’re not even looking. Either way, please, put this blog down and GO MAKE A LIST!